For small communities like Wynyard and Smithton in Tasmania’s north-west, when the rodeo comes to town, so do the people.
- Rodeos in Tasmania now supporting businesses in former farming hubs
- The resurgence comes as traditional agricultural shows are struggle to survive across the state
- Rodeo organisers say the low price tag is a drawcard for families
While traditional agricultural shows are struggling to survive in Tasmania, the Wynyard Rodeo restarted in 2017, after an absence of 23 years.
There are now about 12 rodeos held each year in Tasmania.
Wynyard Mayor Robbie Walsh said the rodeo was an economic boost for former farming hub towns in his municipality, and in others.
“It’s another event that gives spin-off to the local retailers,” he said.
“They [the rodeo competitors] arrive on the Friday night and stay until after the event, and while they’re here they buy fuel and food.
“It brings life to the communities … The pubs run dry to keep up.”
Laura Marshall, the organiser of both the Wynyard and Lillico Rodeos, said the rodeos provided affordable events outside of the cities.
“Rodeos are a great family event, and with the competitors and everything … it’s just a great day out for everyone,” she said.
“We just want to keep it cheap so families can enjoy themselves.
“They only have to pay to get in, and then they can bring their own food and drinks along if they like so it keeps it just a nice, cheap day out.”
Mrs Marshall competes in the horseback events, and she and her husband and fellow rodeo organiser, Gene Marshall, compete in the bull riding, steer wrestling and team roping.
“I love it. The adrenaline rush, everything — the atmosphere, the family side of it, the lot,” Mr Marshall said.
‘Back to basics’ entertainment
MC Rodeo Company’s Mick Wyllie said rodeos were popular because they were going back to grassroots entertainment.
“I honestly think people have just got back to basics,” Mr Wyllie said.
“There’s a lot of drive at the minute in urban society to know what farmers do, where your food comes from and all that type of thing.
“I just think not only do people want to get back to basics, but when they pay to come through a gate to see entertainment, they need to be entertained.
“The rodeos have moved … from what I would call a traditional rodeo, to more a fast-paced entertainment package.”
Tasmania’s rodeos are also attracting interstate interest, with the New Years Eve Smithton Rodeo attracting competitors from every state and territory.
The last rodeo of the season was held at Gowrie Park on the weekend, and the circuit begins again at Melton Mowbray in November.